Friday, October 24, 2014

Empty Alleyways

      I slowly remove the blade from the poor soul's abdomen. With every tug upon the knife's handle, there is a corresponding laceration, the blade unavoidably snagging on some spongy organ as if the body is somehow unwilling to give up the fight, even long after the light has left nothing but its shadow across the old man's eyes.
      His demise stems not from necessity, nor rage or retribution; I killed him to gain a peace of mind. I needed to calm the bloody tide undulating beneath my skin; I wanted the sirens in my head to quit their cacophony. But what I desired most lay deep inside of him.
      "I'm sorry, sir. I really am," I say to the moribund drifter. It's always a peculiar feeling, fleeting, the ecstasy of respite so entwined with my genuine dismay for what I've done to achieve it.
      I crouch by the old man's side, careful to avoid the crimson life spilling out into the dirty alleyway. I gently clench his tremoring fingertips in one hand while slowly rubbing his chest with the other. He struggles to speak between leaden breaths, but fear and death have formed a noose around his tongue. I move a hand to his temple. He jerks away.
      "It's gonna be okay. You're gonna be alright." I speak convincingly, like a stage actor who's well rehearsed.
      The old man's breaths peter out into a cold, dense cloudy bulb, visible only by the faint illumination of a distant streetlight. His final moments shimmer in the dark like a winter campfire's waning embers.
      "I called 911. They said an ambulance is on its way. You'll be good as new before the sun gets up."
      And just as quickly as the words escaped my mouth, so to did the life from the old man. The elderly derelict lay motionless in one of the universe's many dark corridors, its alleyway just as lonely and desolate as the next. It's sad to think that the marrow of a man could be equally barren had it been born a billion lightyears away.
      Reaching to the empty face before me, I lower his eyelids over a pair of vacant eyes, the closing curtain for this weary, one-man show. And while standing in this dark and damp alleyway, engulfed in the night's icy silence, underneath the specter of a blue moon, towering above this listless corpse, a wicked euphoria begins to stir.
      It's like an opioidic wave crushes through me, muzzling the wretched howls of the hounds in my head, stilling the tumultuous blood in my veins, cradling this vicious urge asleep. I could not feel this way on my own, and I made sure the old man felt enough for the both of us.
      This feeling is short-lived, however, as the faint wailing of a cop car's siren amplifies, shaking me from my grim ecstasy. The sensation soon dissipates into the ether, it's existence surviving only in feeble memory.
      I survey the environment before shuffling forward, my feet sidestepping the frosty red puddles on the ground, abandoning the old man's corpse on my way out of just another empty pocket in the universe.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Hero We Need, But...

A recap of a news story from April, 2010. I've been thinking about it quite a bit lately, and it's always stuck with me. I guess I just finally decided to write a little something about it...

           A man saved a woman from an attacker wielding a knife. In the process, the man was stabbed by the attacker. The woman escaped, as did the assailant.   
              The person who came to the woman’s aid was an illegal immigrant, also a vagrant, eventually identified as 31-year-old Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax from Guatemala. After being stabbed, he laid motionless on the sidewalk for more than an hour before anyone bothered to stop. Roughly 25 people walked by, some stepping over, the dying hero, offering little more than curious glances before continuing onward; at one point, a man actually snaps a photo of Tale-Yax with his cell phone. While police received four 911 calls around the time the woman being attacked was heard screaming, no subsequent calls were made. Further, the woman who was attacked never came forward to authorities concerning the incident, nor has she been identified. The assailant also has yet to be apprehended for this murder. Police arrived on the scene an hour and a half after the incident and pronounced Tale-Yax dead.
              So, a homeless man comes to the rescue of a woman being attacked and, in the process, gets fatally stabbed. But because he’s a street person, those walking by his body don’t stop. Tale-Yax could have been on the streets for numerous reasons, but the fact remains that because of the appearance of his situation he was viewed by those that passed him as unworthy of their concern. While the dozens of individuals who neglected to assist so easily the needs of a dying man no doubt felt great remorse upon learning the true nature of the situation, that does not excuse their actions (or lack thereof). No one should need a reason to be concerned for another human being lying on a sidewalk motionless for an hour, regardless of whether an individual believes that human being is high and lying there because of the effects of narcotics. Either we’re members of a compassionate society in which the thought of walking by a person unconscious on the pavement is utterly unacceptable, or we are a society that feigns compassion, employing the term when it suits our purposes and nothing more.
              No matter Tale-Yax’s situation, the reality is that he came to the defense of a woman being attacked. Like those that ignored him after the fact, he could have chosen not to intervene. Had he not, he would still be alive, but decided otherwise. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax displayed the sort of concern for a complete stranger in distress that should have been afforded him. What that says about our society collectively is repulsive. What that says about a man that most would consider a societal burden speaks volumes.